Ellanora Fulk of Tacoma, Washington was browsing her ‘suggested friends’ on Facebook when she came across one suggestion that struck her as odd.  She clicked on Terri Wyatt O’Neill’s page, and began perusing her photos – only to discover a photo of Ms. O’Neill and someone Ms. Fulk knew very well indeed: her estranged husband, Alan Fulk.

And this was no ordinary photo; Mr. Fulk and Ms. O’Neill are pictured sipping champagne and standing next to a wedding cake.

Although the Fulks had been separated and estranged for several years, they were never officially divorced.  This technically makes Fulk (who’d changed his name to ‘Alan O’Neill’) a bigamist, and he was charged accordingly.  He faces up to one year in jail.

Source: Mashable.

According to the Telegraph, a ninety-nine year old Italian man has set a new record: world’s oldest divorce petitioner.  The man, identified only as “Antonio C.”, discovered letters indicating that his ninety-six year old wife “Rosa C.” had carried on an affair during the 1940s.  The devastated man confronted his wife, who admitted that she had indeed been unfaithful some 70-odd years ago. Antonio has since filed for divorce.

The couple, who briefly separated approximately ten years ago, have five children, twelve grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  Antonio now has the distinction of being the world’s oldest known divorce petitioner, surpassing a 98 year old couple who divorced in England in 2009.

 

Legislators in Mexico City have come up with a unique solution to help citizens avoid the “torturous process of divorce” (as one assemblyman put it): marriage licenses that could expire in a minimum of two years, depending on the preferences of the bride and groom.  This would, according to the drafters of the legislation, allow couples to simply decline to renew their marriage contract if the connubial bliss has faded.

While a limited-term marriage license might help some couples avoid divorce litigation, it seems unlikely that the process of breaking up would be any simpler for couples with children or assets/debts that need to be divided – especially given the fact that in many divorces, ending the marriage is the only thing that warring couples agree on.

Story via ABC News.

The Case of the Frigid Frenchman

A French man identified only as “Jean-Luis B.”, was recently ordered to pay his ex-wife 10,000.00 euros (nearly $14,000.00 US) for his failings as a husband.

The specifics of Jean Luis’s matrimonial deficiencies?  According to his ex-wife, a failure to… ahem… perform… for some 21 years of marriage.  Unimpressed with Jean-Luis’ claims of tiredness and health problems, a judge found that Jean-Luis had violated a provision of France’s civil code which requires married couples to agree to a “shared communal life”.  In awarding monetary damages to the ex-wife, the judge noted, “ By getting married, couples agree to sharing their life and this clearly implies they will have sex with each other.”

Clearly, the French take amore very seriously.

Story via The Telegraph.

In the market for an expensive bauble to commemorate your recent legal decoupling?  You’re in luck.  For the low price of $3,200.00, you can be the proud bearer of an 18k gold “divorce ring.”  The ring features four diamonds, subtly arranged to resemble a stake, and set in the middle of a broken, 14k gold heart.

The perfect way to remember your bitter split forever. 

Via The Stir.

A jilted groom in Malaysia is suing the woman he was to marry for calling off their engagement just six hours before the wedding.  The groom, 31 year old Masran Abdul Rahman, says that he and his family were humiliated and distressed by his betrothed’s decision to cancel the nuptials, and were forced to call off a reception to which over 1000 guests had been invited.  The proper compensation for said humiliation, according to Rahman? $360,000.00.

This “odd news” item got us wondering – could a jilted fiance in this state bring such a law suit?  Interestingly, the answer – to some extent – appears to be yes.

In a 1977  “breach of promise to marry” case, the Washington Supreme Court declined to abolish a cause of action for damages allegedly caused by a broken engagement. In that case, L.L. Stanard, a single mother of two, was engaged to marry Raymond Bolin. During their relationship and engagement, Raymond assured L.L. “that he was worth in excess of $ 2 million, was planning to retire in 2 years, and that the two of them would then travel.  [Raymond] also promised [L.L.] that she would never have to work again and that he would see to the support of her two teen-age boys. He also promised to see that [L.L.'s] mother would never be in need.”

Wedding plans were made; dresses were purchased, a church and reception hall were reserved. L.L. sold her house because she and Raymond had signed a purchase agreement for another residence.  However, about one month before the wedding was to occur, Raymond called off the engagement. L.L. sued Raymond for breaching his promise to marry her. She asked for compensation for “pain, impairment to health, humiliation, and embarrassment” as well as for “loss of expected financial security” – namely, the wealth and status that she expected to attain by becoming Raymond’s wife.

The doctrine of “breach of promise to marry” originated in 17th century English common law.  At that time, marriage was essentially a property transaction between two families.  The Supreme Court noted that the doctrine has been subject to much criticism by legal scholars who contend that the doctrine is inappropriate in modern times where “most persons marry for reasons of mutual love and affection.”  However, the court declined to wholly abolish the doctrine, and said:

When two persons agree to marry, they should realize that certain actions will be taken during the engagement period in reliance on the mutual promises to marry. Rings will be purchased, wedding dresses and other formal attire will be ordered or reserved, and honeymoon plans with their attendant expenses will be made. Wedding plans, such as the rental of a church, the engagement of a minister, the printing of wedding invitations, and so on, will commence. It is also likely that the parties will make plans for their future residence, such as purchasing a house, buying furniture, and the like. Further, at the time the parties decide to marry, they should realize that their plans and visions of future happiness will be communicated to friends and relatives and that wedding gifts soon will be arriving. When the plans to marry are abruptly ended, it is certainly foreseeable that the party who was unaware that the future marriage would not take place will have expended some sums of money and will suffer some forms of mental anguish, loss to reputation, and injury to health. We do not feel these injuries should go unanswered merely because the breach-of-promise-to-marry action may be subject to abuses; rather, an attempt should be made to eradicate the abuses from the action.

Stanard v. Bolin, 88 Wn.2d 614 at 619.

The court, however, acknowledged that “marriages today generally are not considered property transactions, but are… ‘the result of that complex experience called being in love.’”  Thus, the court ruled that a jilted fiance may no longer pursue damages for loss of expected financial and social position.

Since the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Stanard, it appears that only one other such case has reached the appellate courts.  That case, a 2006 appeal of a trial court’s dismissal of a man’s breach of promise to marry action, was unpublished (meaning that the case cannot be cited as legal precedent), and did not discuss the doctrine in any detail.  The lack of modern case law leads us to believe that, while it is possible to sue an ex-fiance, most people choose to mend their broken hearts without going to court.

Malaysian “runaway bride” story via The Guardian.

It’s summer, the season of weddings.  Ah, weddings, those meticulously organized displays of love and commitment with all of their conventional trappings:  the white satin dress!  The champagne toasts! The flowers!  The cover bands belting out “We Are Family”!  The buffet lines!

Many weddings today are the result of months – if not years – of stressful planning, and lots of cold, hard cash.  And, for many couples, the much fussed over wedding will be counted among the happiest days of their lives.

Unless of course, you end up in one of those couples that eventually gets divorced.  Party officially over.

In King County, the formal finalization of a divorce is a decidedly unceremonious ceremony.  In most cases, just one of the soon-to-be-legally-split spouses shows up before an ex parte court commissioner, hands him/her the necessary paperwork, and answers a very brief set of hum-drum questions about the amount of time that has passed since the divorce was first filed, as well as the marital assets and debts, the children of the marriage (if any), and other issues that must be dealt before any divorce can be declared final.  After the testimony is given the commissioner hands back the signed final orders, and you are done – officially a single man or woman.  The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes, and it’s far from festive.

Unless of course, you are one of the 25 or so couples who’ve booked a “divorce ceremony” with a Japanese entrepreneur named Hiroki Terai.  For the low price of 55,000 yen (or about $600.00 US – much cheaper than the typical modern American wedding), Mr. Terai will plan and host your divorce ceremony at his “divorce mansion” in Tokyo.  Your family and friends can look on as you and your not-beloved-anymore make vows to start new and  separate lives, before smashing your wedding rings with a hammer.  Then you may all wine and dine – at separate tables, of course – in celebration of your now-severed nuptials.

Awkward much?  Well, Mr. Terai says that he sees the divorce ceremony as “a positive way to end a marriage and move on by making a vow to restart their lives in front of loved ones.”  And it appears that at least 25 ex-couples agree.  Still, we think it unlikely that you’ll find your social calendar brimming with divorce ceremonies any time soon.

The St. Petersburg Times reports:

A woman has been arrested after accosting her live-in boyfriend with a pink sex toy.

grimace

Yes, it’s true. Intoxicated Kimberly Lynn Calvert of Treasure Island, Florida was charged with battery for poking her boyfriend John Anthony Gonzales several times  in the groin.

Naturally, he called 911.

You might think this is an isolated incident, but no and no (weird things from down under).

Lions and tigers and bears …. oh my!

The Porn Star Romantic Of Bristol

He had the body of a porn star. He would disappear mysteriously for days a time. Jason Brake even had the name of a porn star.

But Haylie Hocking believed him when he said he was a personal trainer. She believed him when he said that his mysterious weekend trips were just to visit gyms with his trainer clients. And she happily accepted the expensive jewelry he gave her.

She even said yes to his marriage proposal.

The Daily Telegraph reports that 27-year old Hocking of Bristol, England had planned a church wedding and a lavish country house reception.

tough guy

Then a friend of Haylie’s, while planning her bachelorette party,  saw Jason Brake in an online porn site movie. Haylie canceled the wedding, declaring “I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust a man again.”

Jason’s response was, well, what you might expect from a duplicitous porn star:

“The sex side is purely for the camera, but Haylie did not understand I was only acting. I am sorry and did not want to hurt her. I still love Haylie and would have stopped doing porn if she had asked me to.”

Yeah, dude, you’re a real romantic. She didn’t ask you to stop your line of work because you never told her about it.

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